News deserts are spreading worldwide, publishing professionals say.
Of those working in English-speaking news and publishing, 60% say news deserts are a problem, and over 25% say they are an increasingly significant one, according to the Local News Deserts Survey Report Factsheet from PressReader. Only 15% see no issue.
And while 86% agree that local news is vital to democracy, 45% believe that access to it has decreased in the past decade. Almost 50% are pessimistic about the industry’s ability to reverse the problem.
But 32% are confident that the publishing industry can deal with the issue of news deserts and reverse this threat to democracy.
Meanwhile, 64.6% feel Big Tech has had a negative impact on news access, while 23.1% say it has had a positive effect. Yet 48.2% believe technology might help increase profits in the news and publishing industry, while 27.3% are pessimistic about that.
Similarly, 42.5% are optimistic technology can help journalists remain independent, 35% are dubious.
In addition, 52.1% believe social media has had a negative impact, and 38.8% feel it has had a positive one.
Of those who work in newspapers, 91.7% feel local news is vital to democracy.
PressReader surveyed hundreds of professionals working in English-language news and publishing. The goal was to “understand the industry perception of the problem, drive additional awareness around the issue, understand possible solutions and ultimately our role and the role of technology providers in those solutions," states Ruairí Doyle, CEO, PressReader Group of Companies.
The PressReader Group of Companies includes PressReader, Branded Editions and TextBookHub, firms that it says are building technology solutions for content delivery and consumption.